The Eagles have won two straight games and hope to extend the streak against the Seattle Seahawks this Sunday at Qwest Field. The Seahawks have only won two games so far this season, but play very good at home. The Seahawks have been crushed by injuries. The Eagles defense will have the chance to feast on backup quarterback Seneca Wallace, while the offense may not have to see either defensive end Patrick Kerney or linebacker Lofa Tatupu. The coordinators break down the X's and O's in this week's Coach's Clipboard ...
JOHNSON: LBs NEED TO GET TOs
Lito Sheppard's interception in the end zone against the Falcons last Sunday was indicative of recent trend regarding the Eagles' defense.
Through the first seven games last season, the Eagles only mustered eight turnovers. Through seven games thus far in 2008, they have caused 14 turnovers, including eight interceptions.
Perhaps no one is happier about that than defensive coordinator Jim Johnson, who realized the pressing need to increase the number of turnovers.
"I think you never know when they're going to come," Johnson said. "They come in bunches and then all of the sudden you get a little drop. The thing about it is, just like the other day, those are two great interceptions (by cornerbacks Asante Samuel and Lito Sheppard vs. Atlanta). Turnovers come from guys making great plays and pressure. Those two last week are a combination of pressure and two great interceptions by two great corners."
That said, Johnson would like to see some of those type of plays from the linebacking corps.
"I'd like to see our linebackers get more turnovers and we've challenged them to do that; some interceptions and such." Johnson said. "Hopefully, we keep it going and, hopefully, that pressure continues; the turnovers and guys keep making great plays. It's a big part of the game, no question."
Johnson said that even though he has challenged the players to be more aggressive in getting turnovers, the fact that he has better playmakers is significant.
"I think it's a combination," Johnson said. "We've emphasized them more, getting around the ball, picking up the ball, but also, having the right player. You've got a guy like Asante and Lito's always been that kind of guy. And, I'm surprised (cornerback) Sheldon (Brown) hasn't had a couple because he's a playmaker too. (Free safety Brian) Dawkins is the same way. Hopefully, we do continue that."
- STEVE LIENERT
MORNHINWEG: WHO WILL START AT RECEIVER?
Marty Mornhinweg is going to have a tough decision this week.
Though he finally should have all of his wide receivers available for the first time this season, it means one will need to be a healthy scratch, if the Eagles go with the expected load of five active wideouts.
"That will be a tough deal," the offensive coordinator said. "I don't want to get too much here, but there are many plays where, right at this point, we don't quite know if two guys have to be ready for a certain spot."
Eagles coaches and players have been talking all week like Reggie Brown is an almost sure bet to return to the field after suffering a groin injury prior to the San Francisco game during Week 6. Coupled with the action Kevin Curtis saw last week in his comeback from sports hernia surgery, that will give quarterback Donovan McNabb his top two targets from the 2007 season healthy at the same time.
"Reggie is a fine player, and we need him back and want him back and want him back quickly," Mornhinweg said. "He's very quick. He gets in and out of cuts very well. It would be good to have everybody back at one time here pretty quick."
But the problem – a nice one, at least – is that rookie receiver DeSean Jackson still seems to have a firm grip on his spot in the lineup. Despite Curtis' presence, Jackson's 72 yards were enough for him to lead the Eagles in receiving for the fourth time this season.
Mornhinweg said having everyone available allows him to mix up some of the packages he'll throw at the Seahawks.
But, as of right now, he said, Curtis and Jackson are the starters, should the Eagles open with only two receivers.
"It depends what play and what formation and those types of things," he said. "As you know, we move them all over the place."
Mornhinweg said all three – Curtis, Jackson and Brown – have a good feel for what it takes to play from the slot, allowing the multiple packages.
"Out of those three, they are all very good slot players," he said. "That's why we move them around and motion them around. They are all very good."
- JOE DOLAN
SEGREST: JACKSON'S LEARNING EXPERIENCE
You can't blame DeSean Jackson for trying to make a play. With a 17-7 lead in the third quarter of last Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons, Jackson fielded a punt at the Eagles' 14-yard line. Jackson ran back trying to create some space and in the process was brought down for a 12-yard loss.
It didn't hurt the Eagles, who won the game. But the Eagles had scored on their three previous drives and now were pinned deep in their own territory. Special teams coordinator Rory Segrest understands that the rookie is still learning. And it's hard to fault the dynamic playmaker who has already returned a punt for a touchdown this season.
"It's a learning experience for him. We have to make sure we're learning from our mistakes and making sure he is getting the ball up the field," Segrest said. "DeSean is a guy who is obviously just trying to make a big play for us. He has the ability to do so, but at the same time we have to understand the situation of the game and make sure we are smart on our decisions there."
But there could be an opportunity to strike this Sunday against the Seahawks who are ranked 25th in the league in defending punt returns. Still, Segrest said that Jackson has to pick his spots as to when he should aggressively attack.
"There is a fine line there, in trying to tell him what to do, specifically, and letting him utilize his ability to make plays there. I think it's just more of an understanding of the situation and realizing that on a pooch punt, one of our main goals is making sure they don't pin us inside our own 10-yard line. I think we caught the ball right around the 14 there. So, with the goal already being established, just taking the ball and getting upfield from that point. Again, it's just a learning curve and hopefully he will improve each week."
Making good decisions will be key with showers expected all weekend in Seattle.
- CHRIS McPHERSON